The Road to Fame and Fortune

This is a fun piece to read. Fascination with celebrity never dies. The desire to connect to Hollywood — the excitement, the razzle-dazzle — remains as strong today as it was in the ’50s. And Palm Springs will always be part of that Tinseltown allure. Locals and visitors still marvel at many celebrities’ houses, some for their architectural prowess, others for their curious history. That’s why we hit the road to learn more about them. Think of this as a do-it-yourself celebrity home tour. The houses we visited are easily accessible and beyond architectural mystique. The road trip steers you into some of the most divine neighborhoods in the Coachella Valley, each revealing a fabulous slice of history and many offering some of the most unforgettable views to boot. Buckle up! To learn more check out this link:


More Opportunities and Expectations for Housing Millennials and First Time Buyers

Nationally, first time homebuyers increased to 34 percent of the market share in September. A lot of this is attributed to the fact that most families with children—as well as move-up buyers—tend to make their moves during the summer months, thus easing inventory a bit for the first time homebuyers. The increase in September was the largest since July 2012. Our continued low mortgage rates, coupled with this easing of inventory, along with job gains, have enabled more first time buyers to enter the market.

Earlier this year a new Freddie Mac loan offering mortgages with only 3 percent down and no mortgage insurance became popular with many first time and millennial buyers. Bank of America recently announced that it had so much success with this program that it’s doubling its financial commitment to the program. This is good news for the 75 million millennials who are now forming households, which are expected to have a large impact on the housing market for years to come.

Many millennials have lacked the resources for sustainable home ownership due to the inability to make a traditional down payment, high student loan debt, home price growth that exceeds wage growth and difficulty in saving for a down payment due to high rents. Meanwhile, rents are rising because of the low vacancy rate created by housing demands for this age group.

Accompanying the housing demand of the new millennial households is the aging population of our country. By 2030, the senior population is anticipated to exceed 74 million people or one in five Americans. Seniors downsizing will open up some inventory, but it is also anticipated that there will be an increased demand for safe and affordable senior rental housing—another attractive rental market.

Although many problems and challenges still exist for first time homebuyers, millennials and renters, it does appear that things are getting better and that more attention is being paid to these issues. These problems didn’t develop overnight, so they will take time to resolve as well.

Housing’s new normal: Low interest rates, shifting demand, coming wave of new homebuyers

Speaking before a packed house gathered Wednesday on the 7th floor of the Newseum in Washington, D.C., CoreLogic’s chief economist, Frank Nothaft, told the crowd of housing insiders that anyone waiting for any dramatic shifts in housing, interest rates, or otherwise is likely to be left waiting.

Nothaft, speaking at the “Data, Demand, and Demographics: A Symposium on Housing Finance” presented by the Urban Institute and CoreLogic, told the crowd that housing is entering a new normal.

And that new normal means interest rates will be staying low, well below 5% for the next several years, amid shifting demographics bringing new homebuyers to the market.

“I think mortgage rates are going to be with us for a long period of time,” Nothaft said. “The expectation in capital markets is no rate change from the Federal Open Markets Committee today. We may see an increase in federal funds rate in December.”

Nothaft added that Wednesday’s FOMC announcement could provide more of an indication on the willingness of FOMC members to increase rates before the year is out.

But even if the FOMC does raise rates, mortgage interest rates will stay low, Nothaft said, but perhaps not as “dirt cheap” as they are right now.

“I think we’ll see rates rise from dirt cheap to a very low level as we move into next year, still remaining below 4% all through next year,” Nothaft said. “We’re evolving into a new era in mortgage rates.”

Nothaft also projects four other trends that will emerge over the next several years that will shape housing’s new normal.

Chief among those is a shift in household composition and a change in demographics as more Millennials approach homebuying age.

Nothaft presented a chart during his presentation that highlighted the difference between the largest age cohort in the U.S. population, ages 24 and 25, and the average age of the first-time homebuyer, which is 31.

The bottom line: Millennial buyers are coming, and they’re coming relatively soon.

Click the image below for a graphic breakdown of population age.



Snapchat Spectacles Take Video, Covers Mortgage

Snapchat’s video-recording glasses have become the must-have gadget, thanks in part to how hard it is to buy them. WSJ’s Joanna Stern put on a pair of Snapchat Spectacles to capture the new pop-up store in New York City. Photo: Peter Foley for The Wall Street Journal

Hair unbrushed and breakfast uneaten, John Reuter grabbed his credit cards, jumped into his Chrysler and drove 2.5 hours straight to the Grand Canyon airport.

There he boarded a helicopter, which swooped him through the towering rock walls to the bottom of the American natural wonder. A few steps off the helipad he stood before a vending machine dispensing $130 glasses with video cameras. The much-hyped Snapchat Spectacles.

“I have no clue what these things do. I don’t even have a Snapchat,” said Mr. Reuter, 29 years old and from Henderson, Nev. “All I know is people want these badly.” He bought four pairs, took the helicopter back up—the ride cost $250—and immediately put them on eBay. His profit by the next morning: $1,100.


Instead of putting its new video-recording sunglasses on sale through an online or physical store, Snapchat, recently renamed Snap Inc., has created a real-life, nerd-version of the “Hunger Games” to achieve marketing buzz.

Here are the rules in Snap CEO Evan Spiegel’s arena: The camera-equipped glasses, which can record 10-second Snaps, or video clips, are sold only through Snapbots—vending machines that look like SpongeBob SquarePants mated with a Minion from “Despicable Me.”

The bots, accompanied by security guards, are dropped off for just a few hours in random locations in the U.S. The spots are only revealed after a 12-to-24-hour countdown on

When the location is revealed, it is first come, first buy. Sales are supposed to be limited to two per person. Buyers said the bots had a capacity of about 200 pairs, and no guarantee of a restocking.

Bots in California have drawn lines hundreds deep. Others in more remote areas, like Oklahoma and the one at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, had shorter lines.

Gun Hudson, above, flew Chris Trinh to Australia to get a pair of Spectacles.

Prepare Now to Get the Best Deal on a Mortgage

According to Consumer Reports,

For some, a great mortgage may mean getting a low interest rate. For others, a lower down payment may be attractive, even if it means an incrementally higher interest rate.

No matter what a good mortgage means to you, to boost your chances of getting the kind of mortgage you need, start planning now.

“If you wait to focus on your finances until a few weeks before you apply for a mortgage, there’s not a lot you can do to improve your application,” says Jack Pritchard, chief operating officer of the Mortgage Professor website. “But with months to go, there is plenty you can do to strengthen your position.”

Here’s how to make yourself into a better candidate before the bank reviews your application:

Spend less. Keeping your credit card balances as low as possible is a key part of landing the lowest mortgage rate. You don’t want to head into early 2017 with a spending hangover. “Any time your outstanding credit card balances are more than 30 percent of your total credit limit on all your cards, it’s going to pull down your credit score,” advises Joe Parsons, branch manager for Caliber Home Loans in Dublin, Calif. Your credit score will be a major factor in whether you qualify for a mortgage and get the best terms.

If your debt-to-credit limit is already above 30 percent, whittle down your balances over the next few months, Parsons says. That’s where redirecting holiday spending into paying down credit card balances comes into play. Another good idea: Call up each of your card issuers and ask for your credit limit to be raised. As long as you don’t use any of that credit, it will help reduce your overall usage ratio.

Lower your debt-to-income ratio. Lenders will also be laser-focused on how much of your gross monthly income goes to paying off your ongoing debts, which include credit card balances (the minimum payment due), student loans, car payments, child support, and alimony. As a general rule, the upper maximum debt-to-income ratio to get approved for a mortgage is 45 percent. Mortgage-data firm Ellie Mae reports that for conventional mortgages in September, the average debt-to-income ratio for approved new home-purchase mortgages was 34 percent for so-called conventional loans and 42 percent for FHA-insured loans.

If your ratio is too high, you can’t do much to change the income part of the equation. Even if you got a part-time job quickly, lenders typically average your income over the past 24 months. Instead, focus on reducing your debt or see whether you can get an existing loan, such as a car payment, paid off before you apply for a mortgage.


California Ranks 8th in US Healthiest Housing Market

New Study Names San Francisco As Most Expensive To Buy A Home

According to a report by mortgage resource site, an annual salary of $115,510 is needed to purchase a house in San Francisco where the median home price is $682,410. The report included 25 of the nations largest metropolitan cities with Cleveland, Ohio being the cheapest with a needed salary of $19,435 to purchase a home. (Photo : Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Recent report says California is in its best shape in eight years, ranking No. 8 in the healthiest housing markets in the United States.

As reported by The Orange County Register, Freddie Mac gauged the nation’s housing health through its Multi-Indicator Market Index or “Mimi” which looked into job, homebuying and mortgage data. Using the data, it created a market quality scale of 80 to 120 to reflect “in range” trends, scores of below 80 means the market is “weak” while those beyond 120 are “elevated.”

California scored an “in range” 92.8 in the first month of 2016, coming from 91.6 a month before, the report showed. It is the highest score the state achieved since 2008. Being ranked as the best-performing state in the country means California has strong employment, mortgage payment and housing affordability trends, according to the report. One of biggest contributor to California’s strong results is Southern California.

Buying In 2017? Steps You Must Take Now

You can’t just plunk down your credit card to buy a house. Here’s how to prepare for the purchase.

If you’re thinking about buying a home in 2017, October to December is the perfect time to “warm up” for the house hunt so you can hit the ground running in the new year. And whether you’re looking in Athens, GA, or Athens, NY, the prep work is relatively the same.

We’ve asked real estate and mortgage professionals to chime in about what prospective homebuyers should do to ready themselves for buying a home. From organizing your finances to save money to finding a real estate agent and mortgage lender, there is plenty to keep you busy!

1. Check your credit score

A credit score is a numerical representation of your credit report. FICO scores range from 300 to 850, and the higher your score, the better. “Good credit is like gold when obtaining a mortgage,” says Denise Supplee, a Pennsylvania agent. Typically, you’ll get the best interest rate on a loan if your score is 740 and above. “A higher credit score should net you a lower mortgage rate,” says Lee Gimpel, co-creator of The Good Credit Game, which specializes in financial education. “That lower rate, even if it’s only 1 or 2% lower, can mean saving thousands of dollars per year.” If your credit score falls short, get busy repairing it. Correct any errors that might be on your report, start paying all your bills on time, and get your credit limit raised. Note, though, that you shouldn’t max out your card each month. It’s best to use 30% or less of your total available credit.

2. Don’t open new credit cards

If you think resisting taking a selfie when you’re face-to-face with your fave celebrity is a testament to your willpower, that’s sissy stuff compared with turning down every offer to open a credit card, even if you could save 20% (or more!) on your holiday purchases. Tempting as saving at checkout can be, opening new credit may hurt your chances of getting a mortgage, or at least of getting the best rate on a loan. “By opening the account, you have created another line of credit,” says Paul Anastos, president of Mortgage Master, a division of loanDepot, a nonbank lender. “That credit line, and what is borrowed, can change the application numbers and jeopardize the application.” What could save you a few dollars now could cost you far more in the long run if your mortgage payments will be higher. And along those same lines, “Don’t overspend during the holiday season,” says Dean Sioukas founder of Magilla Loans, an online lending exchange. “Especially on impulse purchases that can be tempting during the holidays.”

3. Suggest financial gifts for the holidays

Besides the mortgage loan, you’ll need a sizable amount of cash to buy a house. There’s the down payment to consider, closing costs, and moving costs. You should also set aside money for unexpected repairs and costs, says Brian Betzler, regional sales manager at TD Bank. Not being prepared “is probably why nearly half of millennials incurred up to $5,000 in unexpected costs during the mortgage process, according to a recent TD survey,” he says.

A potential solution? Bulk up that emergency fund. “Instead of getting gifts for the holidays, [prospective homebuyers] can suggest cash instead that will be put toward their home,” says Paul Sian, a Kentucky and Ohio agent. And remember, you might be getting some money back after you file your tax return. Don’t blow it on vacation. “A tax refund is a great way to add to your cash reserves for a down payment,” says David Hosterman, branch manager of Castle & Cooke Mortgage in Colorado.

4. Interview potential real estate agents

If your neighbor, relative, or friend of a friend happens to know (or is) a real estate agent, that’s great. This person might be the perfect agent for you. But you owe it to yourself to shop around. “Look for [an agent] that is knowledgeable, good, integral, and can assist you in reaching the goal of homeownership,” says Chantay Bridges, a Los Angeles, CA, real estate agent. “Make sure they are not a novice, new, or just unaware of how to do a specific transaction.” The end of the year is usually a slow time for agents, so chances are, they’ll be more accommodating to making an appointment on your schedule.

5. Keep tabs on interest rates

If you hear that interest rates are at historic lows or that interest rates are on the rise, you should not assume that you can get the rock-bottom rate. Not everyone gets the same interest rate on a mortgage loan. It depends on your financial picture and on the lender you choose. “Everyone knows that home prices are, at least to some extent, negotiable, but we find loans to be the same,” says Warren Ward, CFP with WWA Planning & Investments in Indiana. He advises that homebuyers shop around for the lowest interest rates. Note that closing costs can vary too, so discuss with your real estate agent ways to keep yours down. “We saved $150 on the closing fees by selecting the cheapest title company,” says Ward. “I guess that’s not much, but I think most people would bend over to pick up three $50 bills if they were lying on the sidewalk.”

– See more at:

Real estate adds diversification, but how should you invest?

By all measures, the real estate sector, along with the rest of the economy, is roaring again. Just look at median home prices of existing homes. In July they were $244,100, a 5.3 percent rise from the same period a year before, according to the National Association of Realtors.

That, plus historically low interest rates, has made investors take notice.

“I used to have people say, ‘I need a 6 percent yield on my investments to retire,'” said Michael Berry, a certified financial planner and CPA based in Seattle. “I don’t know where you’re going to find it these days, except in real estate.”

A couple looks over their home renovation progress in Arlington, VA.

Brooks Kraft LLC | Corbis | Getty Images

Indeed, the average yield of stocks in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index is 2.29 percent, and the 10-year Treasury note yields just 1.69 percent. But real estate can yield more than that, while also adding important diversification to a portfolio.

Diversification factor

Real estate has a low correlation to stocks and bonds. Because it’s a lagging economic indicator — it rises and falls well after the rest of the economy — it moves differently than stocks or bonds. What’s more, real estate markets are unique. The factors that can sink home prices in one market can have no bearing on another, though not always.

“Global real estate is an enormous part of the global economy, so it should have a role in an investor’s portfolio,” said CFP Daniel Kern, chief investment strategist with TFC Financial Management in Boston.

He recommends a 5 percent to 10 percent allocation over your overall portfolio.

5 Tips for Buyers to Have a Successful Home Inspection







Throughout the homebuying process, you will encounter a number of expenses including, but certainly not limited to, an appraisal, transaction fees and a survey – but none is more important than the home inspection. Dollar for dollar, there is no better use of your money, as a home inspection will not only outline the strengths and weakness of the house you are buying, but will show you how to operate it.

Choosing the Right Type

When you sit down with your real estate agent to prepare your offer, he or she will go over the different types of inspections you can choose from. While there are different inspection options – radon, pest and mold, among others – you first want to steal with a standard home inspection.

There are primarily two different types of home inspections – the home and general inspection (the names may differ depending on your location). There’s no difference in the way the inspector approaches the property or with the report he generates – it’s how that information is used that makes it unique.

A home inspection is arguably the more classic option. Based on the report you receive, you will send a notice to the seller asking for either certain items to be fixed prior to settlement, or a dollar amount be credited toward your closing costs.

The general inspection, on the other hand, is for informational purposes only. While it allows you a full inspection and often gives you the right to walk away based on those results, it does not provide an opportunity for items to be fixed or a credit given in negotiations.


Choosing Your Inspector

Every individual involved in the homebuying process must be top-notch. This is likely the biggest investment of your life and understanding what you are getting yourself into is of the utmost importance. With this in mind, be sure you choose a tried and true inspector you can trust to overlook nothing and provide your report in a timely, organized manner.

The first person to talk to for referrals is your real estate agent. Most agents have likely encountered the good, the bad and the ugly of the home inspecting world and found a few professionals they trust. Make sure your inspector is actively licensed and a member of a trade association, like the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors or American Society of Home Inspectors, and other local professional groups. Members of professional organizations are often held to a higher standard and have gone through more rigorous training to be associated with an industry group.

Finally, ask if the inspector will allow you to see a sample inspection report. While you’ll receive all the information during the time of the inspection, the sheer amount of details can be overwhelming. Seeing a report in advance helps to prepare you for the information to come, and how it can be used as a negotiation and recordation tool as well.

Owner’s Manual

Whether this is your first home or 10th, each house offers its own quirks and there’s no owner’s manual provided. It’s highly recommended you attend the inspection, as the inspector will provide useful information throughout the process of not only the pros and cons of the property, but show you how everything works as well.

An inspector will give you a plethora of information, from which way to point your air filter to where the main water shutoff valve is and how old all your major systems are. While the age and condition of many systems and appliances will be noted in the report, an explanation of how to use everything isn’t standard in written form. Bring a notepad and jot down useful information throughout the process.

How to know when you’re ready to buy a home

The question for most might not be “Do I want own a home?” but instead, “Am I ready to own a home?” While you may feel unsure, there are a few important factors that can help you decide if you are ready to buy a home, and can help you feel more confident that you are on the right track to homeownership!







You are saving your money. While this may seem like an obvious sign, it’s one of the most important when making a big financial decision like buying a new home. If you are saving your money and have some set aside, then you are a step closer to saving for a down payment on a new home and being more financially secure to own.


To learn more go to:

How to know when you’re ready to buy a home